Roger Maunder has been selected for the Atlantic Film Festival’s Inspired Script program. The filmmaker’s work is geographically centered around his second home of the Newfoundland Independent Filmmakers Co-operative offices downtown. – File photo by Ashley Fitzpatrick/The Telegram
Filmmaker and filmmaking mentor at the Newfoundland Independent Filmmakers Co-operative (NIFCO), Roger Maunder has been selected for the Atlantic Film Festival’s Inspired Script program.
The program offers a rare opportunity to develop a screenplay from first thought to first draft, all while working with a professional script editor and receiving continuous feedback from other writers. It concludes at the 2010 Atlantic Film Festival (Sept. 16 to Sept. 25), with a pitch event sponsored by Telefilm Canada.
There, according to the program website, “the writers will pitch their feature film idea to a room of industry professionals with the aim of attaching a producer or director to the projects. The presenting sponsor and mentors will then decide on the presentation of the $10,000 Astral Media Harold Greenberg Development Fund.”
Maunder is one of four participants, one of four potential best scripts, each selected to take part because of their submitted screenplay synopses. In addition to Maunder, the selected writers are: Joadie Jurgova (Antigonish, N.S.), Don Aker (Middleton, N.S.) and Megan Wennberg (Halifax, N.S.).
Maunder said he is excited about walking out of the project with a viable first draft, as well as potentially some financial support for his first feature – or at least an assist for finding it.
“This is something that you can put into your proposals when you do apply for development, for funding,” he said.
“I’ve never gone through this process. I’ve always gone and sat down and started writing the script without planning it. The story just unfolds as it does. But this way, you have to kind of submit your treatment – between five and 10 pages – of how the story’s going to be done,” Maunder said. “It’s going to be interesting.”
Creator of the production label Up Sky Down Films, Maunder is no stranger to film projects. Short films developed under Up Sky Down Films include “Swallowed” (2004) and Maunder’s 22-minute short “Cut From the Same Cloth,” screened at the 2009 Atlantic Film Festival.
As for writing, he is already a published author, with the novel “Mundy Pond.” The story began as a screenplay, said Maunder, one he has been reworking since the completion of the novel. He originally wanted a “Mundy Pond” film to be his first feature, but has since reconsidered.
“Mundy Pond” is a huge film, a period piece to make my first feature. … I figured I wanted to do something else before I went and did that one,” he said.
The idea led to writing his concept for “Sweet Cove,” the story that has earned him a spot in the inspired script program.
“It’s about a guy, Nigel O’Neill, who has to take care of his nine-year old daughter, Rosie,” Maunder said. “Nigel has a back story where he was in a band, called The Brigade.”
The band is from a small town.
“These guys are huge there, they come to town, they make it huge here, then they go off to Toronto and they’re about to make it big and then he falls in love with this girl,” he said. That girl becomes his wife and the mother of his child.
“He chooses her over the band,” Maunder said.
Nigel’s wife receives a cancer diagnosis and the family returns to her home town of Sweet Cove, Newfoundland.
“They go back there because her grandmother lives there,” said Maunder, who explains the woman had been raised by her grandmother.
“There’s other things that happen between him and his family,” he said.
“But he keeps going back to Sweet Cove.”
Catching himself in an excited description of the film, Maunder eases up.
“I’m not going to give it all away,” he said, smiling. Still, Maunder is promising a “huge happy ending.”
“Of course, everything I told you about the story could change,” he said with a laugh.
Maunder recently flew to Halifax and completed his first workshop periods with the program. He will be returning for the second of three workshops in June.